During Gates’ entire tenure under George W. Bush, there was no more than two American combat brigades in Afghanistan. Indeed, Gates, who holds a doctorate in Russian and Soviet history, opposed troops escalations based on what happened to the Soviets. His view was that more troops merely riled up the nest.
If the Soviets, whose empire bordered Afghanistan and who brought to bear all of the weapons of Leninist indoctrination could not change Afghanistan, neither will we with our soft touch. Yet, now Gates seems to think otherwise. Could it be that it’s neccessary for him to defend whatever the administration chooses to do? If the current trend of increasing troop levels is indeed the answer, we must ask: Why did it take 8 yeas to figure it out? The only answer is that Gates never believed it to be the solution.
When the Soviets held power in Afghanistan, schools teaching communist doctrine were set up all over the country, in addition to sympathetic Afghan leaders to ensure the local populace behaved. The Soviet view, one passed down from Lenin, was that education was an important tool in changing the world-view of those resistant to change. They provided food and electrical power, too. Sound familiar?
No country within the Eastern Bloc resisted the juggernaut of the proto-Marxians. The Czech uprising of 1968 was crushed by Warsaw Pact troops. In Hungary, over 300,000 people died as dissent was purged. They were imprisoned, tortured and executed.
It was only when the economies of the Eastern Bloc collapsed under the epic weight of Command Economy’s inefficient means that Eastern Europe became free.
And yet Afghanistan resisted, defeating the full-fledged power of Soviet military might.
While overrated, the Soviet military machine, on paper at least, should have been able to win. But it couldn’t because it failed to appreciate the Afghan mind. Ruled for generations by corrupt sycophants, it’s political and tribal leaders are capable of terrible treachery not easily perceived by the Western mind. Surely friends would never do that….